Maryland LCV recognizes the excessive impacts of pollution and climate change on underrepresented communities and works to elevate their voices in this fight for all Marylanders. We believe climate change is the most urgent environmental threat facing people and our planet and that a resilient climate is dependent upon resilient communities. We also believe that the fight against climate change will not be won until those that suffer the most have clean water and air, healthy communities and receive equal protection and opportunities under Maryland’s environmental laws and regulations. We are eager to meet these challenges and push Maryland to be a leader in fighting climate change.
This upcoming session, Maryland LCV’s priorities will include:
This bill has significant implications for Maryland’s low-wealth communities and communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by pollution and the emissions that cause climate change. The bill will not only reduce these emissions, but will also ensure that a portion of state climate funds are spent on environmental justice communities and help create jobs at all levels. The provision outlining investments is based on the New York Climate and Community Investment Act, which is widely considered the gold standard of state environmental justice policies.
Climate Solutions Now
Sponsors: Delegate Stein and Senator Pinsky
The Climate Solutions Now bill is similar to the Climate Solutions Act of 2020, but has been changed to streamline and strengthen the provisions.
- Change Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to move ambitious goals of 60% below 2006 levels by 2030 and net neutral by 2045. Current law requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emission 40% by 2030 and sets an aspirational goal of 80% by 2050.
- Provide several low cost mitigation policies to reduce pollution impacts, including tree plantings in underserved urban areas and bus electrification.
- Call on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to determine the percentage of state funds spent on climate change that must go to environmental justice communities.
- Create a work group to protect impacted workers.
- Enact simple, effective policies to reduce and mitigate our emissions, including:
- Plant 5 million trees by 2030 with 10% (500,000) of the trees to be planted in urban communities
- Increase EMPOWER efficiency gains from 2% to 3% a year
- Fund bus and passenger vehicle electrification
- Require air monitoring at landfills
- Require emission reductions from retrofitted large buildings
- Require new state buildings to be net neutral, with exceptions for schools
Equity Implications: This bill goes directly to assisting low wealth communities in that, maintaining a reliable and safe transit system supports middle class jobs, many held by women and people of color. In Baltimore, pandemic bus ridership is higher than many comparable systems across the country, which is an indication of how many people rely on it to access jobs, healthcare, education, and other essential destinations and lack of alternatives.
Sponsors: Delegate Lierman and Senator McCray
Mandates $123 million from the Transportation Trust Fund annually for the next ten years to address transit “state of good repair” needs identified by the MTA. MTA buses, light rails, heavy rail, and commuter buses have the highest breakdown rate across the country. Investment in transit produces roughly twice the number of jobs per dollar as the same investment in roads.
The jobs created are middle-class, family-sustaining, and often held by women and people of color. The 2021 introduction will include language supporting worker protection. Additionally, transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland and by supporting a reliable and safe transit system will help reduce the amount of emissions from vehicles.
Sponsors: Delegate Korman and Senator Zucker
This bill mandates beginning in 2024 all contracts for state-purchased buses need to be for zero-emission vehicles, leading to a complete transition of the fleet by 2035. While the initial monetary outlay for electric buses is higher than their diesel counterparts, the long-term savings in fuel, operation, and maintenance costs makes zero-emission vehicles a more cost-effective investment over the lifetime of the vehicles. More importantly, transitioning to zero-emission buses will reduce the health and environmental risks from air pollution caused by diesel fumes.
Note: The provisions in this bill are also included in the Climate Solutions Now bill.
Equity Implications: Electric buses reduce pollution and health impacts to people living near bus routes, as well as the bus drivers and regular transit riders who are exposed to levels of diesel fumes captured in the cab of the buses, as well as the exhaust. This will have an especially beneficial impact on the overburdened, low-income communities and Baltimore city students that use MTA buses, a significant percentage of whom are people of color.
The Environmental Justice Commission
A revamped Environmental Justice Commission should have more seats for regional representation of community members, should meet more frequently and with greater transparency, have more authority and review proposed legislation, should have listening sessions throughout the state to increase engagement and understanding, and should review state agency environmental justice plans.
Maryland LCV, along with our statewide environmental partners, will also be working on:
Sponsors: Delegate Lierman and Senator Augustine
This bill bans single-use plastic bags for distribution at point-of-sale for all retail in the state, with some limited exemptions.
Equity Implications: Litter has a disproportionate impact on communities that lack adequate public services and have more blight. Studies demonstrate that it contributes to impaired mental health and quality of life.
Equity Implications: We don’t yet know the scope of our PFAS pollution problem in Maryland, although it is present throughout the state in waterways and aquatic life that people eat. Generally speaking, communities of color are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemical exposure in consumer products, homes, and water.
Sponsors: Delegate Love and Senator Elfreth
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a family of approximately 5,000 man-made organic chemicals. PFAS are used in non-stick cookware like pans, fabric stain-protective coatings, fast food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, personal care products, and firefighting foams. The carbon-fluorine bonds of PFAS means these are resistant to degradation in the environment, can persist for decades in water and air, and accumulate in our bodies over time. This bill comprehensively addresses PFAS contamination by adopting some of the country’s strongest PFAS policies, including:
- Turn off the tap on new contamination: stop the use of PFAS in food packaging (following the lead of NY, WA, ME) as well as in rugs and carpets (like VT).
- Hold polluters accountable: ensure that chemical manufacturers are legally and financially responsible for contamination of our waterways from PFAS.
- Protecting our air and water by banning the mass disposal of these chemicals by incineration (following NY lead)
Sponsors: Delegate Brooks and Senators West, Feldman and Pinsky
This bill sets dates by which Maryland’s coal-fired power plants will stop burning coal (no later than 2030 with the majority of operations ceasing by 2025), provides initial “just transition” funding for impacted workers and communities, and establishes a longer-term fossil fuel transition planning process for the state, to be led by impacted stakeholders.
Equity Implications: Coal plants are a leading contributor of greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming nitrogen oxide pollution. Over 85% of Marylanders live in counties that are in non-attainment for federal clean air standards for ground-level ozone pollution (smog). That number increases to over 90 percent for African American and Hispanic communities. In Baltimore, where two coal plants sit just across the city line in Northern Anne Arundel County, the rate of childhood asthma is twice that of the national average and the coal plants just south of Baltimore City are the primary cause of the region’s non-attainment status for dangerous sulfur dioxide air pollution. Sulfur dioxide is a localized air pollutant that can begin to negatively impact lung function in mere minutes.